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The One Question Steve Jobs Asked Himself Every Day

The One Question Steve Jobs Asked Himself Every Day

Steve Jobs, whom most of us know for his work at the helm of Apple, looked in the mirror every day of his working life and asked himself one question: “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing?” Most of the time, his answer came back as a resounding yes, but for the average person, it probably varies. So passionate about his work was Jobs that he worked right up until the day before his death, despite suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Minda Zetlin discusses the benefits of asking ourselves this question each day in terms of how it can help us to discover whether or not we’re fulfilling our full potential and working in the careers we love. Asking this question can help us to cultivate a sense of purpose in our personal lives as well as our professional lives. Here are 6 questions that Steve Jobs’s daily exercise can challenge us to ask ourselves.

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1. Does your work make you smile?

No job is perfect. We all have to deal with the demands of schedules, cranky coworkers, long hours, and mind-numbing tasks. But I’ve come to realize that at the end of the day, if I’ve smiled just once as a result of my work, it’s all been worth it. Smiling at work reminds you that you’re doing something, however small, in your daily routine that you find fulfilling.

2. How tired do you feel at the end of the day?

There seem to be two kinds of exhaustion: the well-earned readiness for rest after a challenging but productive day, and the weariness of feeling like you’ve climbed a mountain only to find yourself at the bottom having to face the same drudgery tomorrow. If you’re living according to the philosophy of Steve Jobs, you should, at least most days, experience the first rather than the second form of exhaustion. Going to bed with the feeling that you’ve accomplished something means two things: that you’re using your talents in a way that you find fulfilling and that you’re contributing productively to the world around you.

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3. Is your work rewarded?

I’m not talking about formal recognition, though being named employee of the month certainly doesn’t harm your professional credentials. Rather, do people appreciate the work that you do? Do colleagues thank you for your work, compliment your dedication, and tell you how well you do your job at least occasionally? Mental and physical health are intertwined, and the emotions, both negative and positive, that we carry around with us in the workplace often follow us home. Working in an environment where you feel valued not only contributes to your professional success, but helps you to avoid bringing bad vibes into your home and squandering your “downtime” with thoughts about overwork or office politics.

4. Do you have any regrets?

Other than the triple latte you probably shouldn’t have ordered on the way to work because it went completely off your diet, what do you regret about the way you’re living your life? When we’re unhappy, we tend to focus on what we could be doing rather than what we’re doing in the moment. Minda Zetlin points out that some of the biggest regrets we have are due to a fear of failure. Changing careers, pursuing more education, or learning a new skill can come with risks. Sometimes you’ll succeed, sometimes you won’t, but it’s far better to try and fail than to spend your life wondering whether or not you would have succeeded.

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5. Does your work consume your life?

It’s commonly said that no one ever dies wishing they’d worked more. Not all jobs allow you to leave your work on the desk at 5 o’clock, particularly in the digital age, but that doesn’t mean your work has to control your life. Set boundaries when and where you can. Sit down to dinner with your family when time permits. Squander a few minutes of reading the latest novel on your morning commute or on the treadmill. Find ways to fill your life with variety to give yourself a reason to face each day with something to get excited about.

6. Do you feel stimulated?

One of the things I love about my work as a teacher and a writer is that I’m always learning something, whether through research or a conversation with my students that challenges me to examine the world from a different angle. Meeting with challenges or learning new things in your work keeps your mind active and broadens your knowledge and skill set, but it can also help to spice up the monotony of the everyday routine. Whether you’re a housewife or a hedge-fund manager, having mentally or physically stimulating work to do can increase your sense of productivity and self-esteem. Nothing compares with the satisfaction of setting yourself a task and completing it.

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Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on November 15, 2018

Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset

Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset

What do you think it takes to achieve your goals? Hard work? Lots of actions? While these are paramount to becoming successful in reaching our goals, neither of these are possible without a positive mindset.

As humans, we naturally tend to lean towards a negative outlook when it comes to our hopes and dreams. We are prone to believing that we have limitations either from within ourselves or from external forces keeping us from truly getting to where we want to be in life. Our tendency to think that we’ll “believe it when we see it” suggests that our mindsets are focused on our goals not really being attainable until they’ve been achieved. The problem with this is that this common mindset fuels our limiting beliefs and shows a lack of faith in ourselves.

The Success Mindset

Success in achieving our goals comes down to a ‘success mindset’. Successful mindsets are those focused on victory, based on positive mental attitudes, empowering inclinations and good habits. Acquiring a success mindset is the sure-fire way to dramatically increase your chance to achieve your goals.

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The idea that achieving our goals comes down to our habits and actions is actually a typical type of mindset that misses a crucial point; that our mindset is, in fact, the determiner of our energy and what actions we take. A negative mindset will tend to create negative actions and similarly if we have a mindset that will only set into action once we see ‘proof’ that our goals are achievable, then the road will be much longer and arduous. This is why, instead of thinking “I’ll believe it when I see it”, a success mindset will think “I’ll see it when I believe it.”

The Placebo Effect and What It Shows Us About The Power of Mindset

The placebo effect is a perfect example of how mindset really can be powerful. In scientific trials, a group of participants were told they received medication that will heal an ailment but were actually given a sugar pill that does nothing (the placebo). Yet after the trial the participants believed it’s had a positive effect – sometimes even cured their ailment even though nothing has changed. This is the power of mindset.

How do we apply this to our goals? Well, when we set goals and dreams how often do we really believe they’ll come to fruition? Have absolute faith that they can be achieved? Have a complete unwavering expectation? Most of us don’t because we hold on to negative mindsets and limiting beliefs about ourselves that stop us from fully believing we are capable or that it’s at all possible. We tend to listen to the opinions of others despite them misaligning with our own or bow to societal pressures that make us believe we should think and act a certain way. There are many reasons why we possess these types of mindsets but a success mindset can be achieved.

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How To Create a Success Mindset

People with success mindsets have a particular way of perceiving things. They have positive outlooks and are able to put faith fully in their ability to succeed. With that in mind, here are a few ways that can turn a negative mindset into a successful one.

1. A Success Mindset Comes From a Growth Mindset

How does a mindset even manifest itself? It comes from the way you talk to yourself in the privacy of your own head. Realising this will go a long way towards noticing how you speak to yourself and others around you. If it’s mainly negative language you use when you talk about your goals and aspirations then this is an example of a fixed mindset.

A negative mindset brings with it a huge number of limiting beliefs. It creates a fixed mindset – one that can’t see beyond it’s own limitations. A growth mindset sees these limitations and looks beyond them – it finds ways to overcome obstacles and believes that this will result in success. When you think of your goal, a fixed mindset may think “what if I fail?” A growth mindset would look at the same goal and think “failures happen but that doesn’t mean I won’t be successful.”

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There’s a lot of power in changing your perspective.

2. Look For The Successes

It’s really important to get your mind focused on positive aspects of your goal. Finding inspiration through others can be really uplifting and keep you on track with developing your success mindset; reinforcing your belief that your dreams can be achieved. Find people that you can talk with about how they achieved their goals and seek out and surround yourself with positive people. This is crucial if you’re learning to develop a positive mindset.

3. Eliminate Negativity

You can come up against a lot of negativity sometimes either through other people or within yourself. Understanding that other people’s negative opinions are created through their own fears and limiting beliefs will go a long way in sustaining your success mindset. But for a lot of us, negative chatter can come from within and these usually manifest as negative words such as can’t, won’t, shouldn’t. Sometimes, when we think of how we’re going to achieve our goals, statements in our minds come out as negative absolutes: ‘It never works out for me’ or ‘I always fail.’

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When you notice these coming up you need to turn them around with ‘It always works out for me!’ and ‘I never fail!’ The trick is to believe it no matter what’s happened in the past. Remember that every new day is a clean slate and for you to adjust your mindset.

4. Create a Vision

Envisioning your end goal and seeing it in your mind is an important trait of a success mindset. Allowing ourselves to imagine our success creates a powerful excitement that shouldn’t be underestimated. When our brain becomes excited at the thought of achieving our goals, we become more committed, work harder towards achieving it and more likely to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

If this involves creating a vision board that you can look at to remind yourself every day then go for it. Small techniques like this go a long way in sustaining your success mindset and shouldn’t be dismissed.

An Inspirational Story…

For centuries experts said that running a mile in under 4 minutes was humanly impossible. On the 6th May 1954, Rodger Bannister did just that. As part of his training, Bannister relentlessly visualised the achievement, believing he could accomplish what everyone said wasn’t possible…and he did it.

What’s more amazing is that, as soon as Bannister achieved the 4-minute mile, more and more people also achieved it. How was this possible after so many years of no one achieving it? Because in people’s minds it was suddenly possible – once people knew that it was achievable it created a mindset of success and now, after over fifty years since Bannister did the ‘impossible’, his record has been lowered by 17 seconds – the power of the success mindset!

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